Field Sobriety Tests
The district attorney prosecuting your Pennsylvania DUI case will attempt to use your field sobriety test performance as evidence of your intoxication. However, your defense lawyer may be able to use the same field sobriety test result to demonstrate that you were not impaired. Your Pennsylvania DUI attorney at Zachary B. Cooper, Attorney at Law, P.C. will thoroughly review your field sobriety test performance to determine whether the results may be used to advance your defense.
There are three field sobriety tests standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The three tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand test. The NHTSA has standardized these tests because they have objective scoring systems.
Police investigating Pennsylvania DUI cases also rely on non-standardized field sobriety tests to gather evidence. These include the Rhomberg balance test, the finger-to-nose test, the hand-pat test, reciting the alphabet, and the finger-tap test. These tests carry less weight because they're considered to be less-reliable gauges of the physical and mental impairment caused by alcohol intoxication.
Field sobriety tests are known as divided-attention tests - they purportedly detect mental and physical impairment by forcing you to concentrate on two separate tasks simultaneously. The district attorney in your Pennsylvania DUI case will likely present any variation between the directions given by police and how you performed as evidence of mental and physical impairment.
However, field sobriety tests are imperfect, and there are many factors unrelated to alcohol intoxication that could cause you to perform poorly. Your Pennsylvania DUI attorney will attempt to prove that you "failed" your field sobriety test because of issues unrelated to alcohol use.
There are many factors that could cause you to perform poorly on a field sobriety test, including illness, injury, fatigue, or even nervousness. If you performed physical aspects of the test poorly but did well on the mental tasks, your attorney can argue that you were not impaired. Experts agree that mental impairment occurs before physical impairment when an individual drinks alcohol.
"Failing" a field sobriety test doesn't mean you'll automatically be convicted of drunk driving. Your Pennsylvania DUI lawyer at Zachary B. Cooper, Attorney at Law, P.C. will thoroughly review your field sobriety test performance and all of the other evidence in your drunk driving case to determine the appropriate challenges. Please contact us today for a free consultation.